The Strong's Monopoly Collection Is Now World's Largest

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

March 18, 2013

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359,
Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

New Acquisition Makes The Strong’s Monopoly

Collection World’s Largest

ROCHESTER, New York—With the recent acquisition of the Philip E. Orbanes Collection, The Strong® in Rochester, New York—home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of dolls, toys, and play-related artifacts—now holds the distinction of housing the world’s largest and most comprehensive assemblage of classic Monopoly games.

Philip E. Orbanes spent more than a decade leading research and development teams at Parker Brothers and is widely recognized as the foremost scholar and author on the subjects of Monopoly and Parker Brothers. Through acquisition of Orbanes’s unparalleled collection of Monopoly and early Parker Brother games and related archival material, The Strong gains not only rare examples of historic games, but also detailed files related to their manufacture, and Orbanes’s own research and experiences as an industry insider.

Says Chris Bensch, vice president for collections at The Strong, “With this important acquisition, The Strong now holds every mass produced example of Monopoly as well as myriad related artifacts. Monopoly is an inductee to the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong and it is especially fitting that The Strong should collect and preserve so many important examples of the game and the research related to it.”

 Among the items in the Philip E. Orbanes Collection:

  • Every mass-produced edition of authentic Monopoly from the first home-produced versions made by Charles Darrow to special Millennia editions from the year 2000, with all the Parker variations in between
  • The Roy Stryker original 1920’s handmade oilcloth version of the Landlord’s Game and the rare 1939 Parker Brothers version (Elizabeth Magie designed the Landlord’s Game in 1904 to show the evils of private land ownership; but the game took a radical twist when players greedily collected huge piles of money and property, delighting in opponents’ financial troubles.The Landlord’s Game is considered the historic precursor to today’s Monopoly game.) 
  • Parker Brothers triumphs, such as every Parker-made Mah-Jongg set, and other famous first editions such as Waddington’s 1947 English Cluedo and Parker’s 1949 American Clue
  • Monopoly archives including rare material from George Parker and his two brothers
  • Notable western toys, building sets, playthings and catalogs from the mid -20th century
  • Game and toy prototypes from Orbanes’s career at Ideal, Parker Brothers, his own Gamescience company, and his collaborations with game inventor Sid Sackson and others    

Says Orbanes, “It was an immensely gratifying experience for me to assemble this collection over the span of four decades, and equally gratifying to know it will be preserved and protected, and made available to scholars, within the nation’s preeminent museum of play. I am proud to be associated with The Strong.”

Several artifacts from the Philip E. Orbanes collection will be on view in Game Time!, an original exhibit opening April 13, 2013 at the National Museum of Play at The Strong. These include one of the first Parker Brothers production Monopoly sets—known to collectors as the “Number 9 Deluxe Edition White Box Set”—and a deluxe Mah-Jongg set. 

Other significant landmark games from The Strong’s collection are in the permanent exhibit, Monopoly: An American Icon, including a 1913 John Heap Monopoly set that was a key piece of evidence in a Monopoly copyright dispute; and two hand-made Monopoly sets by Charles Darrow (1933), who is credited with marketing and popularizing the game we have come to know and love.

The Strong ( is a highly interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play. It carries out this mission through five programmatic arms called “Play Partners.” These are the National Museum of Play®, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games®, the National Toy Hall of Fame®, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play®, and the American Journal of Play®.  Independent and not-for-profit, The Strong is situated in Rochester, New York, where it houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. These enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.